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WINDSOR, Conn., Nov. 21, 2009—Individual whole life insurance surged 12 percent in the third quarter but declines in other products resulted in total individual life insurance sales falling 11 percent in the third quarter of 2009, according to LIMRA's U.S. Individual Life Insurance Sales report.

“Whole life’s combination of features, such as simplicity, premium and cash value guarantees and low risk, is proving to be a winning one,” said Ashley Durham, LIMRA senior analyst for product research. “Mutual companies, which represent two-thirds of whole life sales, continue to fare better than the public companies, growing 14 percent for the quarter.”

Overall, because of steeper decreases in the first and second quarters, total individual annualized premium sales are down 19 percent YTD.

Universal life (UL) sales were down only 14 percent in the third quarter, compared with drops of about 30 percent in the first and second quarters. In the first nine months of 2009, UL declined 24 percent.

“It should be noted however, that UL sales began falling in the third quarter of 2008 (down 12 percent),” Durham said. “Still, UL annualized premium sales grew 10 percent since last quarter, so sales may be stabilizing.”

Third quarter 2009 sales were more grim for variable products, which were down 52 percent--lower than second quarter sales, bringing the year-to-date decrease to about 55 percent.

Term sales have held steady throughout the year so far, down only three percent in the first and second quarters and flat in the third. The product continues to hold its own, with more than a quarter of the premium market share through the first nine months of the year despite the relatively low cost for term coverage.

Overall policy count edged up a bit, increasing one percent for the quarter, but decreasing four percent for the year. Whole life policy sales grew seven percent, while UL increased five percent, the second consecutive quarter of UL policy growth.

View the latest data table on U.S. life insurance sales trends. For more statistics, visit the newly updated Fact Tank.


LIMRA is a worldwide research, consulting and professional development organization that helps more than 850 insurance and financial services companies in 73 countries increase their marketing and distribution effectiveness. Visit LIMRA at

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